“This movie ought to be required viewing not just for Oscar voters, but for every aspiring artist wondering how to build a life doing what they love.”
Wayne White is a gentle soul who has been adding zaniness and quirky confection to our lives since his early days as a puppeteer. He was responsible for all the odd and entertaining puppets on Pee Wee’s Playhouse, like Chair-y, Chicky Baby, Pterri, Floor-y and more, for which he won three Emmy awards. You might also know his work from Shining Time Station with Ringo Starr as the Conductor, and/or Beekman’s Place. He later moved on to do special effects on many movies and music videos.
The documentary is an easy going visit with a talented man. We revisit his youthful adventures on famous sets, and we get to talk with Paul Rubens and others from the Pee Wee show. We see his studio and meet his wife, Mimi Pond, writer of the first episode of The Simpsons, and their children.
One afternoon, White and his son begin to put together a puppet of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, for no particular reason other than White’s new compelling idea to do so. They build the big eared puppet head, and White wears it with the LBJ outfit out in public, thoroughly enjoying playing the character.
In his current phase of life, Wayne White has a new passion that has taken off. He buys flea market landscapes and traditional “couch art” and paints words on the art in perspective. The words he chooses are often somewhat vulgar, if humorous, and definitely irreverent.
Wayne White shares his joy with us, as we watch him pick up scraps from his studio floor and craft small puppets and pieces of art, and search flea markets for landscapes he can doctor with his signature words.
Beauty is Embarrassing, White tells us, because we have a moment of comparing ourselves to what we see as perfect. In the face of beauty, we have a vulnerable moment of coming up short.
This is a movie not to miss. I hope you can catch it on Netflix or buy it for from Wayne’s site. More important than enjoying it, watch it with a kid. It will inspire him or her to reconsider his or her options for a creative life.